Centro-matic :: The AD Interview

In 2008 Centro-matic, along with their alter-ego South San Gabriel, released the sprawling double LP, Dual Hawks. In the Fall of last year the band released the Eyas EP along with a note stating it would "serve as an apt farewell to that phase of our bands, leading us down a new path." The culmination of that path is the new Centro-matic record, Candidate Waltz---the most kinetic batch of music the band has released in years. With the album dropping June 21st, I caught up with songwriter/vocalist Will Johnson last week to discuss the band's new direction, the future of South San Gabriel, his thoughts on touring the house show circuit and Woody Guthrie.   (photo/Stevan Alcala)


Aquarium Drunkard: Last year upon the release of the the Centro-matic/SSG split EP, Eyas, the band alluded a change was on the horizon. I'm curious what prompted this.

Will Johnson: Those songs from Eyas ushered out the whole Dual Hawks phase of our bands in a way we liked.   When we released that EP, we were already pretty far along with Candidate Waltz.   We were already living in a pretty different phase of our voyage.

AD: Right, Candidate Waltz feels like the first major stylistic move in some time…the energy even feels different. What took the band in this direction?

Will Johnson: I wrote most of the songs on bass guitar.   That changed some things from the outset with respect to choice of vocal melody, cadence, and the relationships amongst the rhythm instruments.   It peeled things back and made me think about the writing in a different, less comfortable, or maybe just less habitual way.   We also knew from the beginning that we wanted a specific economy in the tracking.   We didn't want the songs drenched with overdubs, and we wanted to try some different things with our drum sounds.   We focused more on elements of tension instead of release.   We're aware that we're not reinventing the wheel here, but it created some new parameters and terrain for us.   We need new parameters and terrain, since we've been together now for seventy-one years.

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